brain and mind

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brain and mind

Post by puthujjana » Wed May 06, 2009 8:25 am


are there any Classical Theravadin texts about the function of the brain? Or maybe even about the connection between brain and mind?

I'm asking because a neighbour had an apoplectic stroke last week and now he has problems with his memory.
That made me wonder how the body is able to damage the mind.

Thank you in advance.

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Re: brain and mind

Post by retrofuturist » Wed May 06, 2009 8:40 am

Greetings puthujjana,
puthujjana wrote:Classical Theravadin texts about the function of the brain?
The Visuddhimagga explains its function with reference to snot as follows (VIII, 136)

This is impurity that trickles out from the brain...

As to location, it is to be found filling the nostril cavaties. And it is not always to be found stored there; but rather, just as though a man tied up curd in a lotus leaf, which he then pricked with a thorn underneath, and whey oozed out and dripped, so too, when beings weep or suffer a disturbance of elements produced by wrong food or temperature, then the brain inside the head turns to stale phlegm, and it oozes out and comes down by an opening in the palate, and it fills the nostrils and stays there or trickles out.
Meanwhile... at XI, 68...
Brain is to be found in the interior of the skull. Herein, just as, when a lump of dough is put inside an old gourd rind, the gourd rind does not know "A lump of dough is in me", nor does the lump of dough know "I am inside a gourd rind", so too, the inside of the skull does not know "Brain is in me", nor does the brain know "I am inside a skull". These things are devoid of mutual concern and reviewing. So, what is called brain is a particular component of this body, without thought, indeterminate, void, not a living being, rigid earth element.
With respect to consciousness and its physical basis, Venerable K. Sri Dhammananda (on page 111 of his translation of the Dhammapada) writes...
It is clear that the Buddha had not definitely assigned a specific basis of consciousness as he had done with the other senses. It was the cardiac theory (the theory that the heart is the seat of consciousness) that prevailed in his time, and this was evidently supported by the Upanishads. The Buddha could have adopted this particular theory, but he did not commit himself. In the Patthana, the Book of Relations, the Buddha refers to the basis of consciousness in such indirect terms as yam rupam nissaya, dependent on that material thing. What the material thing was the Buddha did not positively assert. According to the views of commentators like the Venerables Buddhaghosa and Anuruddha the seat of consciousness is the heart (hadayavatthu).
Retro. :)
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Re: brain and mind

Post by Nibbida » Wed May 06, 2009 1:43 pm

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Last edited by Nibbida on Fri Jan 16, 2015 6:56 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: brain and mind

Post by Cittasanto » Wed May 06, 2009 4:40 pm

Nibbida wrote:That's interesting Retro. I read similar views from the ancient Greeks, that the brain was used for creating phlegm, and that the "soul" was in the heart. I guess both of those are intuitive conclusions from pre-scientific societies.

I wonder how they would respond to finding out that we do heart transplants.
I doubt they would of been too suprised considdering they had the capability to give sex changed in rome (I am not 100% about whether they did but I am sure there is evidence for the surgery)

edit :- here is a link" onclick=";return false;
Blog, Suttas, Aj Chah, Facebook.

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